And the winner is, once again…

Former Congress Rajya Sabha Member J.K. Jain faces no competition when it comes to the annual Parliamentarians’ car rally organised by the Constitution Club of India. This time also, he picked up the “Senior Parliamentarian Trophy”. The rally was flagged off by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. The trophy was presented by Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. Mahajan told Jain, “You are setting a record by grabbing this trophy for the last five years.” On 15 August, Jain will enter 80 years of age. He has never kept a driver since he learnt driving. “I believe in taking myself for a ride,” says Jain, smiling. “Self driving always keeps me alert and I feel young in mind and heart.” “I wish someone senior to me comes to participate in this car rally, otherwise I will continue to collect trophies till I fade away,” Jain told The Sunday Guardian with a hearty laugh. A careful driver, Jain recalls the “fast driving” habit of the late Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi. When Jain once asked Gandhi about this, he told him that “as a pilot I am used to taxiing the aircraft at great speed, and that reflects in my driving on the road”. And when Jain had asked Gandhi why he drove himself, he had replied, “Why should I risk my life in the hands of someone else?”

Venkaiah Naidu most upset over opposition’s tantrums

Poor Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu. Top BJP leaders and many people watching the daily washout of the session because of opposition’s slogan shouting brigade occupying the Well have started feeling great sympathy for him. He has sincerely tried his best every day to bring the House to order. But his appeals fell on deaf ears of the opposition leaders having their own agenda. “The whole nation is watching these daily ugly scenes. What kind of message you are sending to the people? Why are you wasting your time?” This is what Naidu has been telling the opposition members from day one. “The session is about to end,” Naidu said complaining that the House has not transacted any business, including important Bills. “The country wants development. A handful of people are obstructing the House. This is an attempt to stifle democracy. I request you all go back to your seats and discuss whatever you want, whether it is bank scam, Cauvery waters, Andhra, Dalits or Kashmir. The government is ready for all the discussions.”Upset, Naidu has now put an exercise into motion to amend rules to ensure smooth conduct of the proceedings. It will look into the possibility of providing, among others, for automatic suspension of members who entered the Well of the House. Naidu told The Sunday Guardian that some state legislatures already have such rules. The Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) have been formulated under Article 118 of the Constitution, wherein each House of Parliament is required to frame rules for regulating its procedure and conduct of business.

Can TMC, CPM hug each other?

In West Bengal, both the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the erstwhile powerful CPM-led Left Front are bitter foes. But the BJP is their sworn enemy, which, they say, is like a huge octopus, aggressively moving its tentacles in the state. So is there a possibility of the TMC and the comrades joining hands to stop the saffron party’s march into their home-turf? Many political pundits feel that such an “unholy alliance” is quite unthinkable at this point of time. But some people have started talking about this as a possibility, with the limited agenda to stall the BJP’s entry. Some speakers discussed this at a recent condolence meeting to pay homage to departed CPI leader and former Rajya Sabha member, Prabodh Panda. The CPM State Committee member Rabin Deb, TMC leader and West Bengal Power Minister Sovandev Chattopadhyay, Samir Putatunda of the Party for Democratic Socialism were some of the speakers who felt that “the TMC and the Left should come together to stop the BJP juggernaut”.Chattopadhyay said, “The political forces that want to break India apart must be stopped at all cost. Some of us here belong to opposing political parties, but history will not forgive us if we do not forget our petty differences and unite against the reactionary forces.” Forward Bloc general secretary, G. Devarajan recently said, “I am in favour of all secular parties coming under one umbrella for the 2019 general elections.”

To Russia, With Love

Art tourism is a unique idea that has been mastered by an enterprising artist, Shikha Gupta (35). She assembles painters from across India and abroad and takes them to different foreign destinations to organise exhibitions and workshops. On 11 April, she will leave for Moscow and St. Petersburg with 18 Indian artists for her international art show. Some foreign artists will join them there. They will return to India and in July will go to Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Poland, Prague, Rome, Venice, Milan and Zurich to hold exhibitions and art workshops. “I have decided to live a nomad’s life, roaming around the globe,” Gupta told The Sunday Guardian. Married to an Assam artist, Mintu Deka, Gupta does oil and acrylic paintings, mixing abstract with reality. They buy their own travel tickets and most of the other expenses are taken care of by Gupta. “Indian diplomatic missions, host countries and local galleries help us tremendously,” she says. A history and art graduate, Gupta organized her first art exhibition along with foreign artists in Maldives in 2014. The great success encouraged her to go for bigger ventures in Greece, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Croatia, Turkey, Bangkok, Bhutan, Nepal and Dubai since then. Gupta organised her first India show at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Art recently and then took the foreign painters to her hometown West Champaran (Bihar), the place known for Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagrah. They were accorded a grand welcome by her influential father Sri Krishan Parsad, a former panchayat mukhia, on arrival after travelling 24 hours in the Satyagrah Express. “It was a great experience in an Indian train, watching the lush green countrywide,” one of the foreign painters told this paper. They were taken to Valmiki National Park located on India-Nepal border on the bank of river Gandak. They made “live paintings” at a camp and later visited the Nepal border. Perhaps, that explains her logo: Janglekillol Foundation.

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